Excerpt from 'Tuesdays with Morrie' by Mitch Albom
Morrie had aging in better perspective.
"All this emphasis on youth - I don't buy it," he said.
"Listen, I know what a misery being young can be, so don't tell me it's so great. All these kids who came to me with their struggles, their strife, their feelings of inadequacy, their sense that life was miserable, so bad they wanted to kill themselves...
"And in addition to all the miseries, the young are not wise. They have very little understanding about life. Who wants to live every day when you don't know what's going on? When people are manipulating you, telling you to buy this perfume and you'll be beautiful, or this pair of jeans and you'll be sexy - and you believe them! It's such nonsense."
Weren't you ever afraid to grow old, I asked?
"Mitch , I embrace aging."
"It's very simple. As you grow, you learn more. If you stayed at twenty-two, you'd always be as ignorant as you were at twenty-two. Aging is not just decay, you know. It's growth. It's more than the negative that you're going to die, and that you live a better life because of it."
Yes, I said, but if aging were so valuable, why do people always say,"Oh, if I were young again." You never hear people say, "I wish I were sixty-five."
He smiled. "You know what that reflects? Unsatisfied lives. Unfulfilled lives. Lives that haven't found meaning. Because if you've found meaning in you life, you don't want to go back. You want to go forward. You want to see more, do more. You can't wait until sixty-five.
"Listen. You should know something. All young people should know something. If you're always battling against getting older, you're always going to be unhappy, because it will happen anyhow."
He lowered his voice.
"The fact is, you are going to die eventually."
"Mitch, it is impossible for the old not to envy the young. But the issue is to accept who you are and revel in that. This is your time to be in your thirties. I had my time to be in my thirties, and now is my time to be seventy-eight.
"You have to find what's good and true and beautiful in your life as it is now. Looking back makes you competitive. And, age is not a competitive issue."
He exhaled and lowered his eyes, as if to watch his breath scatter into the air.
"The truth is, part of me is every age. I'm a three-year-old, I'm a five-year-old, I'm a thirty-seven-year-old, I'm a fifty-year-old. I've been through all of them, and I know what it's like. I delight in being a child when it's appropriate to be a child. I delight in being a wise old man when it's appropriate to be a wise old man. Think of all I can be! I am every age, up to my own. Do you understand?"
"How can I be envious of where you are - when I've been there myself?"